Stretchable Sensors

In collaboration with P3i and Danfoss Polypower.

Studio PSK partnered P3i and textile designer Niamh O'Connell to explore the potential uses of a new breed of electrical component - the stretchable capacitor, developed by Danfoss.

Danfoss started life as a company supplying technical products to the plumbing, heating and air conditioning industries, but has since diversified into a vast range of markets. One of the most interesting being that of experimental conductive polymers and elastic circuitry.

Danfoss have developed a process for creating completely flexible and elastic capacitors (Danfoss Electro Active Polymers - DEAP). The structure of these capacitors is such that when stretched, the capacitance change is directly proportional to the amount of stretch - i.e. if you double the length, you double the capacitance. As a result, these stretchable capacitors can act as displacement sensors in ver versatile ways. This is an amazing behaviour, and it begins to open up many potential applications for sensors in contexts that may have been difficult traditionally.

The scope of this initial stage of the project was more heavily weighted on the research and experimentation, however, there were also a number of tangible outcomes.

We were very interested in how this new component might facilitate new product interactions. Our aim was to try and reconnect the nuances of the physical, analogue world with that of digital products.

The main outcome from us was a deconstructed MP3 player. Each of the normal functions were separated, and controlled purely by the DEAP sensors. The behaviours of the MP3 player were altered to reflect the analog, nuanced nature of the input components. Not only could you use the regular features of an MP3 player, but using these inputs, you were also able to layer tracks and alter the playback speed.

In addition to this, we also created a number of different form factors for the sensors to change the physical, and therefore electrical, properties of the sensor, as well as a concept embedding the sensing circuitry inside the sensor.

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